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Day 14 - Sunday - Day 2 in Dubrovnik

Today we did the museum circuit, various Cathedrals, and more exploring of the old city.  Just before lunch, we found a nice cafe in the square where I was able to plug in and publish days 10-14, check my email, check in with work and get caught up with my staff and the on-goings there.

After that, Lisa and I left the old city via the Pile gate and climbed the fortress tower on the northern side across the old. original harbour.  Lisa told me today was to be a Karsh free day.  More exploring, less clicking.  So I left the good equipment at the apartment, took the pocket Olympus Stylus (and no backup battery or memory card).  By the time we were back, the battery was dead and the card full.  But I was on a click budget.  Tempted to go back for another crack with the good stuff, but, I've seen it, experienced it, and have a few snaps for the memory file.

The rest of today will be a down day for Lisa and I, blogging, chilling, packing, and out for dinner.  Early to the airport in the AM for a flight that leaves around 6am.  Next destination - Zagreb.  So Phase 1 Split, phase 2 sailing, and phase 3 Dubrovnik are done.  Phases left are Zagreb, Avignon, cycling Provence, and Seillans.  Two of five weeks will be up tomorrow night. 

Here are a couple of images of our apartment, one from atop the wall.  Cheers.



A few more photos of Dubrovnik...


Day 15 - Monday - Vivodina / Belošiće

Up at 4am to head for the airport for a flight to Zagreb.  When we walked through the streets and main square of Dubrovnik, they were empty, not a soul to be found.  Wish I had a tripod and an hour, what sense of life and country I could have captured.  The ride to the airport was amazing (even though in the dark).  The car winding up to the top of the hill behind the old city on a one way road hugging the cliff with only a small guardrail keep us from the sea below.  Croatia may have its lowlands and flatlands, but most of it is hills and valleys and mountains.  You are always climbing something. 

In Zagreb we rented cars (Lisa and I got a Volvo C30 - diesel - nice car) and were off to the homeland.  The GPS did really well, we didn't follow instructions twice, it didn't know of a road near the end, but we had Wayne and his memories from '89 to do the rest.  We started at my uncle's (dad's brother)  Vjekoslav's place (senior citizen home).  He now requires a walker, but he is still sharp, still very handsome for 78.  When we met, he was overwhelmed and cried, we (as he) were touched. 

The ride to here was amazing, up and down steep hills on one lane wide narrow paved roads, that twisted and turned like no other roads I've been on (even the roads in France). It was then off for the village where we encountered the home of my two aunts on my father's side, Katica (who retired back to Croatia from Halifax just this year) and Ana. We started with a drink and so toasted with a glass of wine.  She remembers me from 1968.  Then, a surprise, she heard we were coming, she offed one of her geese, had fresh bread, red and green cabbage salad, ripe sumptuous tomatoes, peppers, and more.  What a feast.  Followed by palečenke and various home made short bread cookies.  What am I talking about, it was all home made.  Then we walked down to dad's birth house and the surrounding area and a stroll through her vineyard. 

After that, it was off to my visit my aunt (on my mother's side) Ana and her son Nikola a couple of doors down.  They live in the house my mother was born in.  Again, more drinks, more food.  Various home made hams and sausages, cheese, bread and cookies.  Wine and beer abounded.  Then a stroll down the old road to where dad grew up.  All these old houses, abandoned, in ruins.  The young are moving away into the cities and out of the country, as they do here in Canada, and there is no one to live in them.  So they use the land around them for various crops.  Tetka Ana got me to promise we'd be back in 2010 and stay a while.  So, time soon to start planning Hrvatska dvadecet i decet.  I'd love that, living there in the country, it would be good for my soul, my Croatian, and my feeling of family. 

After goodbyes to all, GPS programmed, we were off to visit my aunt and uncle on my mothers side who used to live in Dartmouth, Truro, Toronto before retiring back home.  They are in a retirement home, we had a nice visit with tetka Maria.  Ujak (uncle) Drago was off elsewhere for a week due to his sensitivity to breathing and so is more comfortable near the ocean.  Tetka cried as we left, asking us to come back to see her again.

A neat thing about the Croatian vocabulary is that we have 2 words for uncle and 2 words for aunt.  In that way, you know immediately whose side of the family they are on.  You don't have to say my father's brother...

Another GPS setting and finally we were of to a hotel just outside Plitvica so that we will be ready to visit first thing in the morning.  What a long and emotional day. 


House where dad was born                                           (Renovated) house where mom was born

View of a nearby village where my parents they went to church and school

Day 16 - Tuesday - Plitviča / Zagreb

Today it was cold.  Started out damp, cloudy, thinking of raining and 4C.  Got up to 13C and the sun tried to come out around noon (it got brighter), but it never immerged.  I heard it was 4C in Halifax yesterday, and I'm good with that.  Weather for tomorrow is back over 20C. 

Some had thoughts of skipping Plitviča but luckily we did not.  About 600,000 people visit this Eden each year, and we were treated to a vista one cannot describe.  You'll have to just look at the photos.

Around noon we headed for Zagreb.  There is a toll highway, speed limit 130km/hr.  I had it up 160 and cars were blowing by me.  We checked into our hotels and were out for a walk, some exploring and dinner.  Some of the highlights of Zagreb we saw were the Kamenita Vrata, Gornji Grad, Donji Grad, and the cathedral. Tonight was Wayne and Linda's last night, they head for home tomorrow. 

Day 17 - Wednesday - Zagreb

Hey, we slept in today, to about 9am.  Had a great breakfast, and then were booked for a one hour tour for two of Zagreb in a limo.  Marko, the limo driver was very nice.  His instructions were to show us the old city.  But since we saw it last night, he was very flexible.  We even parked and got out for a walk in a park called Maxsimir in the center of the city.  It is huge, miles long and wide.  It contains the Zagreb zoo.  After a nice stroll through the park with our guide answering questions and giving us the low down, back in the car for more of the city.  An hour and a half later we arrived back at the hotel.

Then Lisa and I headed out to see a few things we did not get to see last night in the Gornji Grad (upper city).  We went up in the Vozna Karta, one of the steepest funiculars in the world.  It climbed 30 meters over a diagonal distance of 66 meters.  I remember going up in this in 1968 and just wanted to do it again.  Saved a lot of climbing.  Last night, we actually climbed the hill via the old streets an were a block away from the top of this without realizing it.  Trip up cost 4 kunas each.  At the top, is a tower called the Burglar's Tower (Kula Lotrščak).  Again, as always, we climbed the stairs, and as always, you don't pay until you get half or more of the way up.  It is one of the best ways to see the city, what a vista, what panorama. 

Half way up the tower, there is a canon sticking out one of the windows.  Each day at noon, they fire the noon gun from here.  Hey we do that in Halifax too!  We then went by St. Mark's church, the one with the fancy tiled roof on our way to the Zagreb Museum.  Lisa and I have visited some impressive museums in Paris and London, this one was not near the same scale as those in relation to the size of the building or venue, but the creativity used to depict the history of Zagreb from when it was first settled to after the war in the '90s was fantastic.

From the museum, we walked some more, through the upper city, stopped to split a pizza, and walked by another place I remembered from 1968.  The place I tasted my first European ice cream.  Sherbet-like, wasn't sure about it then but ask me today, there is no better ice cream.  The back to the hotel. 

Lisa was getting a special candlelit, rose pedalled, aromatic, bubble bath set up in our tub by hotel staff while a slaved on the blog.  There is no justice.  Tonight, we have a special candle lit dinner waiting for us in just under an hour.  Last day in a spectacular, lively, busy city.  Population here in the past 10 years went from one to one and a half million.  The architecture here is to be seen.  Influenced from many different cultures, very old and well preserved, making it through many wars and even an earthquake.  There are so many parks and squares, open areas, green areas, where people congregate to sit, eat, neck, walk, walk their dogs.  Zagreb is very dog friendly.  Our hotel even allows dogs.  One thing you do see a lot of and it is a shame, is graffiti.  And not of the artistic kind, or football related; but just kids spray painting "crap" all over the stone buildings.  There is construction here everywhere, renovation and restoration going one everywhere.  I think I could spend a few more days here, and look forward to returning one day soon.

Now lets me tell you about the wines in Croatia, red only of course since that is all we drink.  EXCELLENT.  Our favorites were St. Klement and Dingač.  Not sure which we like better, drank two bottle of each.  We also enjoyed a few bottles of Plavač, various versions of it.

Go to Day 18  


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HOME  |  01 - Split  |  06 - Split/Sail  |  10 - Sail... Mljet |  14 - Dubrovnik cont'd  |  18 - France   | 21 - Cycling   |  25 - Cycling cont'd   |  29 - Villa cont'd   |  32 - The Rest